Experienced central defender Russell Wilcox joined the Tigers in August 1990 as manager Stan Ternent, fresh from leading a survival campaign and retaining Second Division status, looked to build a squad that would compete in the higher reaches of the division. Wilcox and former Blackburn defender David Mail were signed to be the experienced mustachioed duo at the centre of City’s defence, however in the early weeks of the season Wilcox was used as a substitute and given short bursts of first team starts as Ternent’s side went into reverse and sank towards the bottom of the Second Division table. When Ternent was dismissed after a dismal festive period to be replaced by Terry Dolan, Wilcox was brought into the first team more regularly and scored his first Tigers goal in mid March 1991 against Watford. Wilcox missed a month of football after scoring that goal and when he returned to the side in mid April City’s form had again dipped and relegation to the third tier was inevitable.
At the start of 1991/92 season Wilcox was installed as first choice centre half and he missed only nine senior games all season, three of which were in Cup competitions, as Dolan’s side consolidated its Division Three position largely thanks to a run of four wins and a draw in the autumn months and a ten match unbeaten run in February and March 1992 to which Russell contributed two goals against Stockport and Shrewsbury. Wilcox missed the first three months of the 1992/93 season as Dolan’s Tigers started brightly with four wins and a draw, then fell away badly – when Wilcox returned to the side in mid November form picked up again but once again faded in the New Year. Russell missed only three games for the rest of the season but in the 1993 season his contract expired and he left the Tigers.
Russell Wilcox was born in Hemsworth near Wakefield and he came through the juniors setup at Doncaster Rovers in the early 1980s, making his first team debut in May 1981 just a few weeks after his 17th birthday. Injuries halted his progress at Doncaster and by the end of the 1981/82 season he had joined Cambridge United on a short term deal. He returned north during the 1982/83 season and joined Alliance Premier League side Frickey Athletic, where he was a first team starter for four years and made over 120 appearances to carve his reputation as a capable centre half stopper.
In June 1986 Northampton Town paid a £15,000 fee for Wilcox’s services, he came into the Cobblers’ first team during October 1986 and made enough impact to keep his place for the next four seasons, other than a long injury layoff that kept him out of the game for much of the 1988/89 season. Russell scored his first senior goal in December 1986 against Wrexham, a season which ended in Northampton winning the Fourth Division title, and continued to contribute occasional goals as he was twice a league ever-present in 1987/88 and 1989/90 seasons, the second of which ended in relegation back to the fourth tier. It was following that relegation that Wilcox sought pastures new and joined Hull City having made 162 senior appearances and scored ten goals for Northampton.
Wilcox left the Tigers in July 1993 and rejoined his first club Doncaster Rovers. He was a solid presence in the League Division 3 side’s defence for two seasons, making 92 appearances and scoring 8 goals, before moving to divisional rivals Preston North End in September 1995. His two seasons at Preston saw the club lift the league title then consolidate in League Division 2 during the 1996/97 season. After 71 appearances and 1 goal for Preston Wilcox left in the 1997 close season and joined Scunthorpe United, a move that commenced a long association with the Iron and his manager Brian Laws. After four seasons in the Scunthorpe United first team that featured a League Division 3 promotion via the play-offs in 1999 and relegation the following season, Wilcox was used sparingly in the 2001/02 and hung up his boots having made 146 senior appearances for Scunthorpe and scored six goals, taking his career tally to 588 appearances and 34 goals, plus the 120 plus non-league appearances for Frickley.
During the 1999 close season Wilcox was appointed player/assistant manager to Brian Laws and the pair presided over a period in the early 2000s when the Iron were regular challengers in the upper reaches of the fourth tier, eventually winning promotion in 2005. In 2004 Brian Laws was briefly sacked by Scunthorpe then reinstated a few weeks later and Wilcox filled in as caretaker manager. In 2006 Laws was appointed manager at Sheffield Wednesday and Wilcox quickly followed him as assistant, the pair stayed at Hillsborough for three years then were appointed by Burnley in January 2010. In December 2010 Wilcox left Burnley following Laws’ dismissal and briefly he went his own way, becoming assistant manager at Bournemouth under Lee Bradbury. In October 2012 Laws and Wilcox were reunited at Scunthorpe United but Laws only lasted 13 months in the manager’s role. In November 2013 Wilcox took over and was appointed to his first full-time managerial role, he then embarked on a remarkable 28 game unbeaten run that ended in the penultimate game of the 2013/14 season and secured promotion from League Two. However Scunthorpe’s League One form collapsed at the start of the next season and Wilcox was sacked in October 2014.
Russell spent a year in charge at York City that came to a close in October 2015, after which he worked as a scout for Preston, Southampton and Doncaster and assisted the coaching staff at Sheffield United. In 2018 he was appointed as Ireland Under-21 assistant manager, a role kept for two years and combined with being the Under-23s manager at Scunthorpe United. Having once again been caretaker manager of the Scunthorpe first team during the closing weeks of the 2019/20 season following the dismissal of Paul Hurst, his third spell at Scunthorpe drew to a close in May 2021 when the Iron decided to scrap its under-23 side.
Date/Place of Birth: 25 March 1964, Hemsworth
Hull City First Game: 8 September 1990, Swindon Town H (Division Two), 26 years, 167 days old
Hull City Final Game: 8 May 1993, West Bromwich Albion A (League Division 2), 29 years, 44 days old
Doncaster Rovers (1980-1982), Cambridge United (1982), Frickley Athletic (1982-1986), Northampton Town (1986-1990), Hull City (1990-1993), Doncaster Rovers (1993-1995), Preston North End (1995-1997), Scunthorpe United (1997-2003)
Hull City Record
Career: 116 apps, 8 goalsRussell Wilcox
|1990/91||24 (7)||1||-||-||2 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1991/92||40 (0)||4||3 (0)||1||3 (0)||0||-||-||1 (1)||0|
|1992/93||28 (1)||2||2 (0)||0||-||-||-||-||3 (0)||0|